Reports emerged on Wednesday that Brittney Griner’s release from prison before the end of the year had become a real possibility. This was after a Russian diplomat revealed that negotiations between Russia and the United States government on a potential prisoner swap could come to fruition before 2022 ends.

Unfortunately, the Kremlin has poured some ice-cold water on this notion as quickly as it gained legs. According to Natasha Bertrand of CNN, the Russians have made it adamantly clear that they intend to wait until next year before re-engaging in any negotiations with the U.S.:

“The Kremlin said on Thursday that Moscow is not planning to engage with the Biden administration on the question of prisoner swaps before the end of the year, according to Russian state media.”

The Russian government is clearly playing hardball here as this latest power move is a clear indication of their desire to prove that they hold a major advantage on the negotiation table. The only way Brittney Griner’s release will be facilitated is under their terms and only if the United States government is able to satisfy their demands.

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Previous reports have identified Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout aka The Merchant of Death as the potential prisoner that the U.S. will be willing to swap for Brittney Griner. Bout remains jailed in America and it seems that the Russians have, at the very least, shown some interest in facilitating the prisoner swap.

There is still a lot of hope for Griner to see her release soon, but it’s clear that the U.S. government has its work cut out for them.